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Could Cincinnati Become The Bitcoin Capital?

Ann Thompson
Attendees of a bitcoin conference in Covington mingle in the hall of the convention center before the event Tuesday.

Bitcoin enthusiasts took what could be the first step Tuesday toward teaching some Tri-state residents about cryptocurrency. CPROP co-founder Adam Koehler and organizer of the "Day for Crypto Conference" hopes this helps position the area as an expert in this technology.

"No city can say we're the blockchain capital of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology," says Koehler. "I want Cincinnati to be at least in the lead for the Midwest."

Koehler believes Amazon's entire logistics will move to blockchain, so he says this is important if Cincinnati is to land Amazon's second headquarters.

Bitcoin debuted on the Chicago Board Options Exchange Monday. The virtual currency rose 16 percent, to a high of $18,850. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange will start trading bitcoin Dec. 18 using a composite of different prices across a number of exchanges.

The trader who called the bitcoin surge predicts the cryptocurrency will be worth $100,000 by the end of 2018.

People attending Tuesday's conference in Covington know there are risks but they say there is also a lot of money to be made.

Andrew Prell of the gaming start-up Convergence says the video game industry has had virtual economies for 20 years. He wishes people would buy into these type of currencies.

"One of the problems is when you are trading a virtual item to somebody else, you do that over the internet and there's a lot of fraud in there because Paypal will not undo a transaction that happened around a virtual good."

Entrepreneur Betsy Kent says she's been tracking cryptocurrency for the last few years. 

"I'm hoping to find out if I'm smart enough to understand this stuff," she laughs.

Max Monk has studied up on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but has questions. "What types of potential impacts can it have on financial markets and the economy," he asks.

CPROP co-founder Sandy Selman likens it to the logical next step. "The leap from paper to hard drive is like the leap from hard drives to blockchain."

Critics of such currencies say they exist only to facilitate money laundering and illegal anonymous payments. Others say bitcoin is useful in crisis situations when people can't count on their country's monetary system.